Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Making the most of Istanbul

A stopover in Turkey. It's an experience of a lifetime. Istanbul is a jewel that deserves more than just a quick once-over. Invest a few days here to really discover what this city is offering. The city never fails to impress, when you spot cheap flights to Istanbul, grab them! Here are five experiences that are essential to any trip to Istanbul. 

Marvel at the Aya Sofya

Istanbul is a city known for its architecture but few are better than this one. It's innovative form, historical importance and most of all, the sheer beauty of it is worth marvelling at. While not much from the outside, wait until you get inside. It's stunning.

Lose your way in the bazaars
It's a mish mash of colours, chaos and totally mayhem. Ladies, if you want to shop the way a local lady does, then don't waste your time at Kanyon. Instead, weave in and out of the caravan-like stands in the shopping streets of the Spice Bazaar. Along the shore, vendors sell it all from tasty sesame snacks to the most convincing fake Rolex's.

Independence Ave for wining and dining
The Turkish know this street as ─░stiklal Caddes, it's a hopping promenade and is the heart of modern Istanbul. At one end of it is Taksim Square, at the other is Galata. It's all laid back here. Take your time and skip between museums, cafes, wine bars, hotels, shops and bath houses. The vibe here is certainly more West than East. 

Steam it up in a hammam
It's not every day when you have the opportunity to bath half naked in a steamy room that dates to the 16th century. It's like taking a lesson in history, culture, architecture and getting squeaky clean all at the same time. There are bath houses all over the older part of Istanbul.

Get a taste for the city
Food. Let's just say that the Turkish love to eat and they love to cook. Alongside that, what they cook is nothing short of amazing. Restaurants here are loud, they're lively and you can really tell that Turk enjoy themselves when out for dinner. Start with a plate of meze and dig into a kebap.